Presentation on theme: "Acquire South Fork Asotin Creek Property A proposal from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation."— Presentation transcript:
Acquire South Fork Asotin Creek Property A proposal from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
Property Description 8,500 acres Steep canyons & level ridgetops Shrub-steppe rangeland 1,480 acres cropland Combined 18,000 lineal feet of South Fork Asotin Creek & George Creek 79,000 lineal feet of feeder streams
Property Location The South Fork Asotin Creek property offers an opportunity for more comprehensive management & protection of a larger landscape with its connection to: WDFWs Asotin Creek Wildlife Area Umatilla National Forest Washington DNR lands
Wildlife Values Winter range & calving grounds for 250-400 elk Mule deer Bald eagles/Raptors Neotropical birds Bighorn sheep Possible sharp-tailed grouse reintroduction site
Anadromous Fisheries Property a vital link in the Asotin Creek watershed for salmon recovery More than 2 miles of South Fork of Asotin Creek crosses the property Watershed harbors summer steelhead, spring chinook, and bull trout, along with native redband & resident rainbow trout
Endangered & Sensitive Species & Habitats Spring chinook in Asotin Creek Summer steelhead in Asotin Creek Bull trout in Asotin Creek Bald eagles Potential sharp-tailed grouse reintroduction Shrub-steppe habitat Caves & talus Elk winter range Riparian areas
Project Goals Protect & enhance 8,500 acres of high-elevation shrub-steppe habitat in Asotin Creek subbasin. Improve spawning & rearing habitat for summer steelhead in George & S. Fork Asotin creeks. Lower stream temperatures enough to encourage return of spring chinook in mainstem Asotin Creek Block up public ownership of critical mule deer, elk and bighorn sheep winter range, increasing chance of management success for both WDFW & Umatilla National Forest
Project Timeline RMEF will acquire property. RMEF will manage for up to 2 yrs, together with WDFW. (Management strategies, maintenance & restoration will be consistent with WDFW plan for adjacent lands.) RMEF will convey ownership to WDFW. RMEF will cooperate on long-term ownership plans, including making habitat enhancement funds available.
Monitoring & Evaluation Monitoring for both fisheries & wildlife would coincide with ongoing and future WDFW activities. This monitoring will include: Presence/use by anadromous and resident fish; Stream quality (temperature, nutrient loads and total suspended solids); Vegetative recovery (existing & restoration projects); and, Wildlife use & impact.
Aquatic Habitat Issues South Fork Asotin & George Creeks (Quotes from Asotin Subbasin Summary) Spring chinook salmon & summer steelhead production is limited primarily by existing spawning and rearing conditions. Water temperature is the primary water quality factor limiting salmonid productivity in the Asotin Creek Subbasin. Lower reaches of Asotin Creek have temperatures in excess of 70 degrees F during the summer months. High fecal coliform concentrations are also a concern for Asotin Creek. Land use practices have contributed fine sediments to the system, causing gravel to become cemented. The amount of unvegetated streambanks has increased streambank erosion, resulting in sedimentation and impacting fish during the egg and pre-emergent fry stages.
Benefits of Purchase to Aquatic Habitats This acquisition would provide fisheries managers approximately 2-1/2 miles of S. Fk. Asotin Creek and 1 mile of George Creek for streamside revegetation and in-stream improvements. Removing cattle from riparian zones would reduce fecal coliform & other sediments.
Terrestrial Habitat Issues South Fork Asotin & George Creek Basins (Quotes from Asotin Subbasin Summary) Since the arrival of settlers in the early 1800s, 50 to 90 percent of the riparian habitat in Washington has been lost or modified. Riparian zones along the Snake River and Asotin Creek have been lost and fragmented by agricultural development and subdivision. Species dependent on shrub-steppe habitat have been extirpated or populations are severely depressed. Subbasin shrub-steppe habitat has been lost to agricultural development. Livestock grazing results in a slow impact to the composition and structure of native vegetative communities. Habitat degradation in the Blue Mountains threatens existing populations of elk, mule deer and bighorn sheep by reducing the forage and habitat base, especially winter range. Noxious weeds, primarily yellow starthistle and spotted knapweed, have taken over thousands of acres of wildlife habitat within the subbasin. Noxious weeds can reduce elk use of native range by up to 98 percent (Hakim 1979).
Benefits of Purchase to Terrestrial Wildlife Protecting & improving riparian zones would benefit neotropical birds and raptors. Purchase, combined with existing public ownership, would provide a large, contiguous block of high- elevation shrub-steppe. This large block could provide opportunity for sharp-tailed grouse reintroduction. Ranch is located within priority habitat zones in subbasin plan for elk & mule deer. WDFW biologist rates the property as very critical for elk & important for bighorn sheep. Purchase would provide opportunity to expand winter forage base for all ungulates. Purchase would allow greater opportunity to control spread of noxious weeds to adjoining public lands.
Benefits to Wildlife & the Public Offers expanded opportunities to revive the summer steelhead populations in S. Fork Asotin Creek & George Creek Provides educational & recreational venue for general public Offers potential for sharp- tailed grouse restoration Supports desires of local groups & businesses to protect watershed & ensure continued economic benefits of recreational tourism Protects against loss of important riparian and shrub- steppe habitats Protects critical winter range for present ungulate species, thereby facilitating key management goals